When you’re in a Spanish-speaking context and meet someone for the first time, it’s essential to know how to ask for their name. Whether you’re in a casual or formal setting, there are different phrases and expressions you can use. In this article, we’ll explore various ways to say “What’s your name” in Spanish, both formally and informally. Let’s dive in!

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Formal Context: ¿Cuál es su nombre?

In formal situations, it’s important to use the appropriate language and show respect. To ask someone’s name formally, you can use the following interrogative sentence:

¿Cuál es su nombre? (What is your name?)

Here, “su” is the possessive adjective used to indicate formality. It shows respect towards the person you’re addressing. You can also inquire about someone’s surname using the phrase:

¿Cuál es su apellido? (What is your surname?)

Remember, many Spanish speakers have two surnames, so it might be helpful to ask about both.

Possessive Adjectives in Formal Situations

Possessive adjectives play a crucial role when asking for someone’s name in Spanish. They indicate ownership or belonging. Here are the possessive adjectives you should know for formal contexts:

  • Mi (My)
  • Tu (Your)
  • Su (His/Her)
  • Nuestro/as (Our)
  • Vuestro/as (Your – plural)
  • Su (Their)

Using the correct possessive adjective is essential when asking the question. For example, if you’re meeting a friend of a friend in a formal context, you could ask:

Hola, ¿qué tal? ¿Cómo es tu nombre? (Hello, how are you? What is your name?)

In this case, “tu” is the informal possessive adjective used for someone you know well. However, in formal situations, it’s better to use “su” instead.

Pluralizing Possessive Adjectives

Spanish possessive adjectives can be pluralized when referring to multiple people. If you want to ask for the names of several individuals in an informal context, you can use the plural possessive adjective “sus”:

¿Cuáles son sus nombres? (What are their names?)

Here, “sus” means “their” and not “your.” It’s important to differentiate between the two.

Informal Context: ¿Cómo te llamas?

In informal situations, such as when meeting friends or acquaintances, you can use a simpler phrase to ask for someone’s name:

¿Cómo te llamas? (What’s your name?)

This phrase is less formal and suitable for casual settings. It’s important to adapt your language based on the context to create a comfortable atmosphere.

Using “Mi” and “Nuestro” in Informal Situations

In informal contexts, you may also want to ask about your own name or your family’s name. In such cases, you can use the possessive adjectives “mi” and “nuestro”:

¿Cuál es mi nombre? (What is my name?)

¿Cuál es nuestro nombre? (What is our name?)

Although these examples are less likely to be used, they showcase how possessive adjectives can be applied in different scenarios.

Alternative Ways to Ask for Names

Apart from the phrases mentioned above, there are a few alternatives you can use to ask for names in Spanish formally:

  • ¿Cómo sellama? (What is your name?)This phrase uses the impersonal “se” instead of the pronoun “te” and is considered a formal version. It translates to “What do you call yourself?” and is suitable for polite and respectful conversations.
  • ¿Cómo se llaman? (What are your names?)This plural version of the question is used when addressing a group of people formally. It’s often used in professional settings or when meeting multiple colleagues for the first time.
  • ¿Cuáles son vuestros nombres? (What are your names?)The possessive adjective “vuestros” is used in formal situations to address a group of people respectfully. This phrase is suitable when getting to know your colleagues better.

Remember to practice these phrases regularly to gain confidence in using them. Respectful language and proper greetings are highly valued in Spanish-speaking cultures. Moreover, you won’t get embarrassed by asking basic questions like “What does the Spanish word essay mean”.


Knowing how to ask for someone’s name in Spanish, whether formally or informally, is essential when building relationships and engaging in conversations. By using the phrases and possessive adjectives mentioned in this article, you can navigate various social contexts with ease. Remember to adapt your language based on the formality of the situation and always show respect towards others. ¡Buena suerte! (Good luck!)


How do you ask for multiple people’s names in a formal context in Spanish?

To ask for multiple people’s names in a formal context, you can use the following question: “¿Cuáles son sus nombres?” This phrase translates to “What are your names?” and is considered appropriate when addressing a group of individuals respectfully.

What are some tips for learning how to ask for names in Spanish?

Here are a few tips to help you learn how to ask for names in Spanish effectively:

  1. Practice basic greetings: Start by learning common greetings such as “¿Cómo te llamas?” (informal) and “¿Cuál es su nombre?” (formal).
  2. Study possessive adjectives: Understand the different possessive adjectives like “tu,” “su,” and “nuestro/as” to use the appropriate language based on the context.
  3. Role-play conversations: Engage in role-playing exercises to simulate real-life situations and practice asking for names.
  4. Listen to native speakers: Immerse yourself in Spanish language resources, listen to native speakers, and pay attention to how they ask for names.
  5. Seek feedback: Practice with native speakers or language tutors who can provide feedback on your pronunciation and usage.

Is “¿Cómo se llama?” a formal way to ask for someone’s name in Spanish?

Yes, “¿Cómo se llama?” is a formal way to ask for someone’s name in Spanish. It is a respectful phrase that translates to “What is your name?” The use of the impersonal “se” instead of the familiar “te” indicates a formal and polite approach when addressing someone.

How can I show respect when asking for someone’s name in Spanish?

To show respect when asking for someone’s name in Spanish, consider the following:

  1. Use formal language: Choose formal phrases like “¿Cuál es su nombre?” instead of informal expressions.
  2. Address individuals appropriately: Use the appropriate pronouns and possessive adjectives based on the person’s relationship and level of formality.
  3. Pay attention to cultural norms: Familiarize yourself with cultural norms and customs related to greetings and interactions in Spanish-speaking countries.
  4. Show genuine interest: Approach conversations with a genuine interest in the person’s name and make them feel valued and acknowledged.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when asking for names in Spanish?

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when asking for names in Spanish:

  1. Using incorrect possessive adjectives: Ensure you choose the right possessive adjective (such as “tu,” “su,” or “nuestro/as”) based on the formality and relationship with the person.
  2. Mispronunciation: Pay attention to correct pronunciation to avoid misunderstandings or confusion.
  3. Forgetting to use formal language: In formal contexts, it’s important to use appropriate formal phrases and language to show respect.
  4. Neglecting cultural norms: Be aware of cultural customs and norms related to greetings and interactions to avoid unintentional disrespect.

By being mindful of these tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can navigate conversations about names in Spanish more effectively and respectfully.

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